Women who look young for their age are likelier to live longer than their older-looking peers, a new study has found.
The research suggests young looking women tend to have lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes.
The team behind the study claims it is the first time an individual’s lifespan has been directly linked to the speed at which their skin ages.
Lead author Dr David Gunn, a senior scientist with Unilever, said: ‘We identified that blood pressure was driving the link between cardiovascular disease risk and perceived age.
‘It is the first time a link between low blood pressure and youthful looks has been proven. This finding gives rise to new ways to communicate the significant additional benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
‘Not only this, but we also found that the feature in the face that blood pressure was linked to was not skin wrinkles but likely what we term as the “sag” in the face.
‘The exciting thing is further investigations will enable exact pin-pointing of the feature in the face that signposts an individual’s blood pressure.’
High blood pressure affects a third of adults, and if left untreated, greatly raises the odds of heart attacks and strokes.
It is known as the silent killer, because the symptoms often go unnoticed until it is too late, and is the single biggest cause of death worldwide.
Around 16million British adults have the condition, although a third of these remain undiagnosed, with six million regularly taking tablets to control the condition.
The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, discovered women with the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease looked more than two years younger for their age than those in highest risk group.
The experiment involved 514 adults with an average age of 63.
It also revealed that men from families with a long lifespan appeared 1.4 years younger when compared to same-age counterparts whose relatives had an average life expectancy.
Both women and men from long-lived families were found to have less skin wrinkling on their upper arm than other people the same age.
Dr Gunn said: ‘Our initial findings suggest that families who age healthily are also endowed with slower skin ageing and, for males, a more youthful face.
‘The next stage is to understand what is happening inside the skin of these youthful individuals to find out more about their ageing secrets.’
Study co-author Dr Diana Van-Heemst, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, added: ‘It is hoped the results of the study will encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to regularly monitor important health parameters such as blood pressure as the study shows that these factors not only impact health, but can also affect physical appearance.’